WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Nov. 17, 2010 Eight states earned a better grade on the 2010 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card and 32 others and the District of Columbia saw their preterm birth rates improve.
Following three decades of increases, in 2008 the nation saw the first two-year decline in the preterm birth rate, a 4 percent drop from 2006. The 2008 preliminary preterm birth rate dropped to 12.3 percent, from the 2006 final rate of 12.8 percent. The March of Dimes says 79 percent of the decline was among babies born just a few weeks too soon.
Overall, the United States received a "D" on the report card, when national preterm birth rates are measured against the Healthy People 2010 goals. The United States has a high rate of preterm birth compared to top scoring states and, notably, most industrialized countries.
"The policy changes and programs to prevent preterm birth that our volunteers and staff have worked so hard to bring about are starting to pay off," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "The two-year decline we have seen nationwide, though small, are encouraging. We believe this decline is the beginning of a trend, but must be supported by better health care, new research and adoption of intervention programs to lower the risk of preterm birth."
The March of Dimes released its 2010 report card today, the 8th Annual Prematurity Awareness Day, when the nation is asked to focus attention on the growing problem of premature birth.
"As a family doctor, I've seen the terrible impact of premature birth," said U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin, who today unveiled a new public service announcement about the serious problem of preterm birth. "It can cause life-long disabilities, and it is the leading cause of deaths in newborns.
"Our country has one of the highest rates of preterm birth in the world," Benjamin said. "We have to do better."
In the United Stat
|Contact: Elizabeth Lynch|
March of Dimes Foundation